Welcome to my blog. My blogging journey began about in August 2009 as a photo-a-day blog which has since transitioned to combine my love of good food and photography. Today, using as many local and fresh ingredients as we can, my boyfriend and myself spend time researching recipes, making our own adaptations, cooking, taking photos, eating, and finally reflecting on all or part of the above listed process here. I hope you take the time to not only read and look at our photos, but please cook some of the recipes yourself. You are invited and encourage to leave feedback as we continue our culinary journey!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin and Shrimp Gnocchi

Raffaele Montella is visiting Chicago and while he is here, one of our favorite things to do together is cook. With him around, he is the chef and I am the ever-so-eager culinary student.

Last week he invited D and myself over and we made a pumpkin and shrimp gnocchi, perfect for the season. It was amazing! I had never used pumpkin in a pasta, and although the process is tedious, I would definitely do it again.

Unfortunately, I don't have the exact recipe, but if you are interested you could use the instructions below and replicate for your own version!

First we peeled, seeded and diced a small pumpkin. We placed the pumpkin in a pot with cool water and boiled until soft, about 25 minutes. Then, we added one package of frozen shrimp, one package of frozen mussels, parsley, and a bit of olive oil.

After about 5 minutes we began boiling water in another pot to cook the gnocchi. Add salt to the water. Mix the gnocchi and pumpkin and shrimp mixture together along with about 1/2 of cup of a pasty mixture of flour, olive oil, and salt.

There you have it. Wonderful!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Zuppa Imperiale (Imperial Soup)

Similar to Passatelli Soup, Zuppa Imperiale is another traditional Italian soup for a chilly day. Daniele and I decided to give it a try for something a little different.

Zuppa Imperiale

3 eggs
3 Tbs flour
3.5 Tbs parmesan
1oz butter
chicken broth
Crack the eggs in a bowl and use a mixer on them. At the same time, melt the butter and let it cool down to room temperature. Add the flour, parmesan and butter to eggs and mix it all together. Add a little bit of nutmeg, salt and pepper to the mix.
Grease a small pan (or just cover it with parchment paper) and pour the mix into it, spreading it so that it is of a uniform thickness (around 1/2 cm). Put it into a pre-heated oven at 350 F, for around 30 minutes, or until the surface becomes a golden crust.
Take it out of the oven, let it cool down and cut into little cubes (1/2 cm side).
Prepare some chicken broth and bring it to boil, then dump the cubes into it and let them boil for around 5 minutes. Serves 2-3 people.
If you want, you can also make more cubes than you need, then freeze the cubes after you cut them. Then you’ll just have to dump the frozen cubes into the boiling broth and let them boil for a little longer than you would for fresh ones.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Crockpot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Sauce

Post-marathon, I knew I would be needing some serious carbs. I also knew that I would want to celebrate, but I wouldn't want to cook.

My solution was to cook a pasta sauce in the crockpot the day before I ran the marathon, and invite everyone in Chicago who supported my marathon efforts over for dinner the evening after I completed the marathon. All I would need to do was warm the sauce up and cook the pasta. And it worked! This sauce was a big hit and I will make it for a dinner party again.

Crockpot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Sauce
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, dried and sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspooon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thights
  • 12 ozs broccoli florets
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
Begin by microwaving onion, 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a bowl for five minutes. Place in slow cooker.

Add the broth, wine, and chicken seasoned with salt and pepper to the slow cooker. Cook for 6 hours on low.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred into bite sized pieces.

Microwave broccoli with 1 tablespoon oil for about eight minutes until soft. Stir chicken and broccoli back into sauce and cook for five more minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes. Serve warm over pasta.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Salad

Sorry about the lack of blog posts! Daniele and I have had a very busy fall, and although the cooking continues, neither of us have had a lot of extra time to write the blog entries. I still have them stored though and will continue to post as time allows.

This recipe is actually my Aunt's, and I made it for a potluck earlier this week. It was a huge hit! (Not to mention easy to make and healthy).

Sweet Potato Salad
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can black beans
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (cayenne)

Pour about 1-2 teaspoons olive oil over potatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper flakes. Roast at 400 for about 25-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir once or twice during cooking.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons lime juice. You can add more salt and pepper but I don't really think you need it if you seasoned the potatoes. Rinse and drain 1 can of black beans.  Add beans, potatoes and onions to dressing.  Stir gently. Refrigerate a few hours to mix flavors.

That's it! Easy! Try it for your next potluck.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Bagels

One day pre-marathon in order to ensure I was eating enough carbs, I prepared apple bagels. I used the same general quantities of flour and yeast as our original recipe but changed the flavor from cinnamon raisin to apple cinnamon.

Before mixing the flour together, I caramelized the apples. I cored and chopped two large apples and cooked for 20 minutes on the stove with one tablespoon of butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon,1 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt and nutmeg.

Then, I mixed the apples in with the flour and yeast proportions in the cinnamon raisin recipe and followed all of the original instructions.

The bagels were great. In hindsight, I would have also added a touch of sugar and cinnamon to the dough, but this recipe was great served with peanut butter, which was absolute perfection for my needs of both protein and carbs both pre and post marathon.

Potato, Green Bean, and Pesto Salad

Last weekend, Daniele and I prepared some of our homemade pesto sauce. 

I had found an idea online for a potato, green bean, and pesto salad and I was convinced we needed to try it. It was simple, and incredibly tasty. If you're looking for a different way to use your pesto (or need a side dish to take to a potluck) try this one!

Just slice and boil some yukon gold potatoes for about ten minutes. Chop and add the green beans and boil for about 5 more minutes. Drain. Top with pesto sauce, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, and pine nuts. Serve.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli

Hey everyone! I'm back to writing for the blog because Laura just ran a marathon, so she's been busy with other stuff. I know that it has suddenly become warm again, but until a week and a half ago it seemed like winter was coming already, and we were all set into 'soup' mood. (As you can probably tell from the last couple of blog entries...)
Anyway, this is my traditional Italian soup contribution:
Pasta e Fagioli
1/2 lbs dried beans
1/2 can tomato paste/crushed tomatoes/tomato puree
olive oil
100 gr flour
1 egg
We used black beans because we had those lying around, but feel free to use pinto beans or whatever you prefer. If you are using dried beans, you will need to soak them in water at least half a day in advance (I put them in a covered bowl full of water in the morning to cook them for dinner). If you are using beans from a can, you will need to count twice or three times as many beans.
After the beans are done soaking, you should boil them for around an hour and a half. While that happens, chop the onion and celery and heat some oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, cook the celery and onion together until they start getting soft. At that point, add the tomato (whatever form of tomato you prefer is fine, we had
an open can of tomato paste, so that's what we used), salt, a good amount of pepper and some rosemary.
When you can find some time, you should make some fresh pasta (just like in a previous recipe) with that flour and egg. Roll it as thin as it goes and then cut irregular triangles out of it (this is what are called 'maltagliati' literally 'badly cut'). If you are lazy and/or don't have a pasta maker, you can just buy some pasta, in that case I would recommend something small like mezze penne or elbows (definitely not spaghetti nor fettucine).
Once the beans are boiled for long enough, take half of them out of the water and put them in a blender or food processor until they become a paste. Then dump them, together with the rest of the whole beans and the water you boiled them in, in the pan where you had the onion/celery/tomato cooking. Salt some more and let it all boil together covered for 20 minutes.
If you have fresh homemade pasta, you can at this point put it into the pan with everything else for 2-3 minutes and it will be ready. If you are using pasta from a box, instead, you will have to boil it separately and then add it to the rest of the soup once it's done.
Serves 4 people. Don't forget to have some parmesan on the table to grate on top of the soup!